“I’ve got so many things I want to do with my life but I get frustrated at my inability to follow through. I have a business on etsy that I haven’t touched for a year, not to mention countless craft projects. I keep saying I’m going to start this exercise challenge, but I haven’t made it past day three. I want to join the protests against police brutality and teach my kids to stand up against it. I donated and bought books about systemic racism, but I’m afraid it will end there instead of really pursuing action. I have home improvement projects that I think about but never get around to. I could keep going with all the things I want to do, but these unfinished projects make me feel lazy and unproductive, even though I hardly ever sit down. I work from dawn to dusk, so it’s not like I have any extra time. I’m tired of wanting to change my life but not knowing how to make that happen. How can I motivate myself?”
Imagine life like a buffet table filled with many possibilities. So many appealing items to taste and enjoy. When everything on the buffet looks appetizing and appealing, you want to taste it all. But if you ate everything you wanted from a buffet table, you would find yourself tired, and overwhelmed. When we try and take a bite from every item on the buffet table of life, we make ourselves sick.
What’s the best way to handle the buffet table of life? When you are young, you want to try lots of different things. You can’t just LOOK at a buffet table and know what you want to eat. You’ve got to participate. This is why we put our kids in sports, scouts, swim lessons, Science camps, and encourage creative pursuits. Tasting things helps us decide if we want to eat more or less of that item.
By this time in your life, you’ve tasted enough of the buffet of life to know the general idea of what you want to eat more of. The next step, is to decide what foods are most nourishing and delicious to you before you even approach the table.
For this we need to compare your surface desire with your deepest desire. Our surface desire wants chocolate, wine, and ice cream. Our deeper desire is to feel healthy, energetic, and connected to our body. When you align with your deeper desire, you know exactly what to eat.
Think about your home improvement projects, your social activism, your business, crafts, and exercise goals. What is the deep desire that you think these projects will give you?
What is the feeling that you are yearning for? Are you hungry for growth and forward momentum? Are you craving mental clarity, contentment, and calm?
What is your deepest desire?
Then choose which ONE thing is going to give you the feeling you crave. If you could take productive action on one of these pursuits, which one would be the most rewarding? Which one scares you the most? Which one feels the most risky but exciting? If you could accomplish your goals, which of these pursuits would you be most proud of following through on?
If you imagine yourself ten years from now, which of these will you be most grateful that you accomplished?
Life Coaching Answer:
Now that you know which item from the buffet table of life you want to pursue, it’s time to introduce you to your “Resistance Monster”.
The resistance monster can take on many forms. Mine sounds very thoughtful: “People need me. I can’t just do what I want, I need to help others.”
Other monsters can sound like self care: “You are tired.You don’t want to work out.You had a hard week.Let’s just take a little nap and then exercise.”
Others just like to delay: “I’ll do it tomorrow.Later.I’ll get to it just not right now.I’m busy.”
Some just wanna have fun: “Who cares?Let’s party! How about a glass of wine? That sounds boring.”
Some say your actions aren’t big enough: “If you are going to do it, do it right. You must be successful.Small steps won’t cut it, you need to be impressive.What you are doing isn’t enough.”
Others like to play small: “I don’t need more money / more love / more fun / more success / better friendships.I should just be grateful for what I have.Something’s wrong with me for wanting more than I have.”
Others futurize and catastrophize: “Something bad could happen! Everything is good now, but soon the other shoe will drop. I know I’m going to fail so why try?”
Some resistance monsters like to compare & despair, “No one else struggles with this like you do.” “Something is wrong with you.” “Everyone else is better at this than you are.”
The way to overcome your resistance monster is to “know thine enemy”. Expect it to come along for the ride. Say hello to it. Draw a picture of it. Have conversations with it.
Resistance will always show up when you are going to do something new that is good for you. The more aligned your goal is with your soul’s calling, the more resistance you will experience. If you decide to eat a donut everyday, you aren’t going to get resistance. If you decide you are going to meditate everyday, expect to be avoiding that mediation spot, distracting yourself with everything you can think of, checking social media, the weather, how many covid cases there are, ANYTHING to avoid the one thing that will give you what you want.
What’s the point of the resistance monster? Why does it have to be there?
I think it comes up to help us build the skill set we need to take us to the next level. When people find INSTANT success, sudden fame or wealth, or lose weight quickly, they often don’t handle it well. We need to build our capacity to handle success when we’ve grown accustomed to the struggle. We need time to shift our identity and view ourselves as a fit, balanced, healthy, wealthy, savvy, creative business woman who deserves all good things.
Learning to recognize and overcome your own resistance is the greatest work we all do. The more we try to change and grow, the better we get at it. Figure out what your deepest desire is, and let it override all your surface level desires. Make a plan on how to accomplish your goal. Stick to that plan no matter what and watch your resistance monster do its song and dance trying to distract you. Say, “Hello resistance! I see you and hear you. Your opinion is noted, but not welcome. I’m going to do it anyway.” Then do it, and reward yourself for it with praise. Tell yourself how proud you are of overcoming your resistance monster.
In the end, it’s not about the money, weight loss, or social activism, it’s about who you become in the process of pursuing your goals.
Kryptonite: Too many priorities
A priority is something that is more important than anything else. Many Supermoms can find themselves with too many, sometimes competing, priorities. My kids, my career, my marriage, my house, my friendships, my health, my spiritual connection, my volunteering…. TOO MUCH!
Having too many priorities is a kryptonite, because it leaves us feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and inadequate. If your priority is to raise happy kids and they cry and cling everytime you try to go out and get some exercise, you are going to feel frustrated and stuck. I suggest choosing ONE priority at a time.
You KNOW you are going to feed your children. You KNOW the dishes and laundry will eventually get done. You KNOW you’ll show up for your work meeting and do a decent job. Some things have moved to automatic pilot and don’t require your attention. This is great news. Figure out which things you can move to the back burner and don’t let them take up any mental real estate. Then choose ONE goal that you deeply desire that will bring up your resistance monster and focus on that.
Use your mental power to overcome resistance to following through on this one goal. Once it becomes part of your routine and habit, demote it to the back burner and focus on something else. Don’t try to change too many areas of your life at the same time. It makes for a great TV show (thanks for the new season Queer Eye!) but in real life, it will make you feel like a loser for not accomplishing all of your goals at the same time.
Power Boost: The one thing that changes everything.
Sometimes, there is one thing that changes everything. If you can figure out what this is, it’s a gold mine! For me, for many years, listening to and reading self help books always put me in a good mood. I could escape the chaos in my mind and home, by listening to optimistic, good hearted people teaching me how to improve my life. It made me feel empowered and on top of things.
Now, it’s yoga. If I start my day with 20 minutes of yoga, it gives me physical energy and mental clarity. This daily practice takes care of my aches and pains, helping me focus on the task at hand. I sleep better because my back doesn’t hurt. I feel proud of myself for overcoming resistance.
What’s the one thing that changes everything for you?
Maybe it’s earning more money? Maybe it’s stopping drinking? Maybe it’s improving your relationship with your husband?
I was teaching a values exercise one day where the instruction was to rank a list of 20 values according to your priorities. Instead of listing them in first, second, third order as I had intended, this Supermom put “Time by myself” in the middle of her paper and moved all the other values to outside edges of her paper. She said, if I don’t get time to myself, nothing else matters. This was her one thing that changed everything.
Think about what your one thing is, make a plan, and say hello to your resistance monster. If you need help bridging the gap between where you are, and where you want to be, hire a life coach! That’s what they are trained to do! You will be amazed at how powerful a few life coaching sessions will be!
Quote of the Day:
“Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term grown, health, or integrity will elicit Resistance. Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.” Steven Pressfield